How Technology, Market Disruption, and e-Learning are Shaping the Future of Our Workforce

An industry leader provides perspective on disruption, unprecedented change, and what’s just ahead.  

GUEST COLUMN | by Misty Frost

This may not come as a surprise, but the American workplace is in the midst of a massive overhaul. Trends are shifting, technology is advancing, and the devastation of COVID-19 is still reverberating throughout our communities—and our economy. 

Our educational system has also experienced a level of disruption many of us never saw coming. College enrollments are decreasing by anywhere between 6–20%, and the record unemployment rate has left thousands and thousands of potential students wondering how they’re going to keep up with the expenses of day-to-day life—let alone cover the lofty costs of tuition.

‘The growth of e-learning has increased nearly 900% since the year 2000, while the U.S. college dropout rate currently stands somewhere between 40% and 60%.’

With all this unprecedented change comes the belief that, in the years to come, we’ll witness an emergence of new, non-traditional training programs that can successfully teach large numbers of workers the skills they need to perform the jobs of the future.

But these programs aren’t some new-fangled idea. 

Looking Back to See Ahead

Way back in the early ‘90s, when online education was first introduced as an alternative to the traditional classroom setting, it was understandably met with an overwhelming amount of skepticism. 

People didn’t trust it. 

They thought it was a fad.

Everyone believed it would never work.

Now? The growth of e-learning has increased nearly 900% since the year 2000, while the U.S. college dropout rate currently stands somewhere between 40% and 60%. That’s a massive discrepancy—one that seems to be trying to tell us that online training isn’t as “absurd” an idea as many once believed. 

In other words, e-learning works. The last year has cemented it as a viable means to achieving training and educational goals. 

It’s All Become Standard Practice

Many online programs are developed by software engineers, instructional designers, artists, and industry experts with years of experience working in the field. Extended reality, VR, real-world interactive scenarios … it’s all become standard practice—and it’s the type of content that makes these training programs so interesting, engaging, and aligned with job-market needs. 

They’re relatively affordable, too. Compared to the amount of money a learner might invest in a college or university program (about $10,000 per year if they’re local—double for out of state), online training is significantly less expensive. Ranges vary, and are typically somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000 for a full program that includes all necessary materials, 3–12 months’ worth of content, and highly specified certification prep. 

And that’s what makes job-readiness training such a valuable tool: it’s adaptable, it’s accessible, and it’s undeniably effective.

Employers Are Taking Notice

This all means that as professional skills training becomes more and more common, workers—particularly those in niche fields like healthcare—will be more equipped to handle real-world scenarios from the very start of their careers, and employers all over the country are taking notice.

‘…hiring managers understand that well-trained people with relevant knowledge are what will keep their businesses moving forward.’

Some employers, particularly healthcare providers, won’t even consider hiring an individual if online certification isn’t part of their previous experience or education. Perhaps that’s because hiring managers understand that well-trained people with relevant knowledge are what will keep their businesses moving forward. They also understand that the more prepared learners can be for what they’ll face on the job, the more successful they’ll be in their day-to-day responsibilities. Which, in turn, leads to greater outcomes.

Absolutely Essential

Beyond the initial hiring process, though, continued on-the-job training has become absolutely essential if any organization hopes to keep pace with industry knowledge that seems to increase at an exponential rate.

That’s why nearly 90% of corporations now use e-learning to invest in their employees’ career development, compared to just 4% in 1995—and that trajectory is rapidly climbing up and to the right. That’s probably due to the overall impact on retention, engagement, efficiency, and revenue. Some studies show organizations can achieve an 18% boost in employee engagement through e-learning, while revenue generated is 26% higher for companies that utilize this technology to train their teams.

More surprising, though, is that we’re just scratching the surface of how effective remote learning technologies can be. 

Moving Forward

We live in an unpredictable world, and as we all start moving forward after such a turbulent year in 2020, we’re all forced to reevaluate the way things work. We need to think about how we communicate. How we do business. And—perhaps most importantly—how we learn. 

Looking towards the coming days and weeks and months and years, e-learning (and the way we utilize it) will shape the professional landscape and change how we find people to meet the demand for real-world skills. 

Future workers and the companies hoping to identify, hire, and retain the best employees would be wise to keep tabs on this trend. The future is coming, and in many ways, it’s already here.

Misty Frost is the CEO of Carrus, a leading online healthcare training and professional development provider. Her 25-year career includes serving as SVP of global marketing at Instructure, where she led the global growth strategy and drove value from a private startup to a publicly traded business valued at over $1 billion. She is an active member in the Women’s Tech Council and Utah Wonder Women, a group dedicated to developing women’s executive leadership.


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